Maintaining Spiritual Integrity

“IN ORDER TO BE SINCERE AND BLAMELESS UNTIL THE DAY OF CHRIST” (PHIL. 1:10).

Seek to have a life that bears scrutiny.

In our society, those whose lives are marked by moral soundness, uprightness, honesty, and sincerity are usually thought of as people of integrity. However, society’s standards often fall far short of God’s. Spiritual integrity calls for the highest possible standard of behavior and requires supernatural resources available only to those who trust in Him.

Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9-10 outlines the path to spiritual integrity. It begins with love that abounds with knowledge and discernment (v. 9) and progresses to the pursuit of excellence (v. 10). The result is sincerity and blamelessness—two characteristics of godly integrity.

The Greek word translated “sincere” in verse 10 speaks of genuineness and authenticity. It literally means “without wax” and is an allusion to the practice of inspecting pottery by holding it up to the sunlight. In ancient times pottery often cracked during the firing process. Rather than discarding cracked pieces, dishonest dealers often filled the cracks with wax and sold them to unsuspecting customers. Holding a pot up to the sunlight revealed any flaws and protected the customer from a bad purchase.

Following that analogy, biblical integrity requires that you be without wax, having no hypocrisy or secret sins that show up when you’re under pressure or facing temptation.

“Blameless” speaks of consistency in living a life that doesn’t lead others into error or sin. Your standard is the same away from church as it is at church.

Being blameless isn’t easy in a world that unashamedly flaunts its sinful practices. You must guard against losing your sensitivity to the heinousness of sin and unwittingly beginning to tolerate or even accept the sin that once shocked you. That’s when you lose integrity and begin to cause others to stumble.

Diligently pursue integrity with a view toward glorifying Christ in all things until He returns!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that He is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in His presence blameless with great joy (Jude 24).
  • Prayerfully guard your heart and mind from the subtle evil influences that can erode your integrity and make you ineffective for the Lord.


For Further Study

  • Read Genesis 39.
  • How was Joseph’s integrity challenged?
  • How did God honor Joseph’s commitment to integrity?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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The Joy Of Glorification

GOD WILL PERFECT HIS WORK IN YOU “UNTIL THE DAY OF CHRIST JESUS” (PHIL. 1:6).

Someday God will glorify and reward every believer.

For Christians there’s an element of truth to the bumper sticker that reads, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” We aren’t what we used to be, but there’s much to be done to make us all He wants us to be. Yet God’s work within us is so sure and so powerful, Scripture guarantees its completion.

Pondering that guarantee led Bible expositor F.B. Meyer to write, “We go into the artist’s studio and find there unfinished pictures covering large canvas, and suggesting great designs, but which have been left, either because the genius was not competent to complete the work, or because paralysis laid the hand low in death; but as we go into God’s great workshop we find nothing that bears the mark of haste or insufficiency of power to finish, and we are sure that the work which His grace has begun, the arm of His strength will complete” (The Epistle to the Philippians [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1952], p. 28).

The completion of God’s work in you will come at a future point in time that Paul calls “the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Scripture also speaks of “the day of the Lord,” which is the time of God’s judgment on unbelievers, but “the day of Christ Jesus” refers to when believers will be fully glorified then rewarded for their faithful service (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15). All your earthly cares will be gone and God’s promise to keep you from stumbling and make you stand in His presence blameless with great joy will be fully realized (Jude 24).

Concentrating on what is wrong in your life might depress you, but focusing on the glorious day of Christ should excite you. Don’t be unduly concerned about what you are right now. Look ahead to what you will become by God’s grace.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Reflect on the joy that is yours because you belong to an all-powerful God who is working mightily in you. Express your joy and praise to Him.
  • Read 1 Chronicles 29:11-13 as a prayer of praise to God.

For Further Study

  • Read Revelation 7:9-17 and 22:1-5. What glimpses do those passages give you of the activities of glorified believers in heaven?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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The Joy Of God’s Peace

“GRACE TO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD OUR FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST” (PHIL. 1:2).

Nothing you face today is beyond the purview of God’s grace and peace.

Paul’s wonderful benediction for grace and peace was ever on his heart. He offered it in each of his epistles and expounded on it throughout his writings.

Grace is the outpouring of God’s goodness and mercy on undeserving mankind. Every benefit and provision you receive is by God’s grace. That’s why Peter called it “the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 1:10). Just as your trials are manifold or multifaceted, so God’s multifaceted and all-sufficient grace is correspondingly available to sustain you.

Peace, as used in Philippians 1:2, speaks of the calmness and absence of strife characteristic of one in whom God’s grace is at work. The New Testament also links it to mercy, hope, joy, and love. To experience those graces is to experience true peace.

It is said that when Bible translators were seeking a word or phrase for “peace” in the language of the Chol Indians of South Mexico, they discovered that the words for “a quiet heart” gave just the meaning they were looking for. That’s an appropriate parallel because peace guards the soul against anxiety and strife, granting solace and harmony.

Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” In Philippians 4:6-7 Paul says to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Although “grace to you and peace” was a common greeting in the early church, it was an uncommon experience in the unbelieving world. The same is true today because only those who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ receive grace and peace.

Are you experiencing God’s peace? Remember, nothing you face today is beyond the purview of God’s all- sufficient grace and surpassing peace.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Read Ephesians 2:14-18 and praise God for Christ, who is your peace, and for His gracious work on your behalf.

For Further Study

  • What is the first step to acquiring peace (John 16:33; 1 Pet. 5:14)?
  • What does the God of peace desire to accomplish within you (1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20-21)?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Joy And Godliness

“I REJOICE AND SHARE MY JOY WITH YOU” (PHIL. 2:17).

True joy is directly related to godly living.

Philippians is often called the epistle of joy—and rightly so because the believer’s joy is its major theme. Paul loved the Philippian Christians and they loved Him. When they learned that he had been imprisoned for preaching the gospel, they were deeply concerned.

Paul wrote to alleviate their fears and encourage their joy. Of his own circumstances he said, “Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. And you too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me” (Phil. 2:17- 18).

Often a Jewish animal sacrifice was accompanied by a libation or drink offering (e.g., Num. 15:1-10). The animal was the greater sacrifice; the libation the lesser. Drawing from that picture, Paul placed greater significance on the faith and spiritual well-being of his readers than on his own life. To suffer for Christ’s sake brought him joy, and he wanted the Philippians to understand that perspective and rejoice with him.

He also wanted them to understand that joy doesn’t operate in a vacuum. It’s directly related to godly living. Christ is its source; obedience is its sustenance. We see that in David’s cry of repentance: “Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” (Ps. 51:12). Paul knew the joy of the Lord because he trusted Christ and obeyed His will.

The scarcity of joy and godliness in the world today makes it imperative that Christians manifest those characteristics. As we do, others will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

This month we will highlight various aspects of joy and godliness from Philippians 1:1-11 and Colossians 1:9-12. I pray you will be eager to learn from God’s Word, and willingly obey what you learn, for therein is “joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to use our daily studies to strengthen your joy and increase your godliness.
  • Seek to emulate Paul’s attitude of preferring others to yourself—a key element in joyful living.

For Further Study

  • Read the book of Philippians, noting each reference to joy.
  • What brought joy to Paul?
  • On what or whom do you rely for joy?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Maintaining A Clear Perspective

“I pray that . . . you may know . . . what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18).

How you perceive your spiritual resources dictates how you live.

Throughout Ephesians 1 Paul is clearly struck with the magnificence of our inheritance in Christ. Here he prays that we will know the riches of its glory.

Some commentators see “His inheritance” as a reference to believers, who are God’s inheritance or special possession (v. 14). That view stresses the value God places on us as believers, as demonstrated in Christ’s death, the forgiveness of our sins, and the abundant grace that He lavishes on us (vv. 7-8).

Others see it as referring to the believer’s inheritance, which Paul calls “His inheritance” because God is its source. Just as “His calling” (v. 18) issued from Him and was received by believers, so His inheritance issues from Him.

Both views are theologically sound but the second seems more consistent with Paul’s emphasis in verses 11 and 14. In either case Paul’s point is clear: redemption and its accompanying blessings are so profound that we must have supernatural help to understand them. That’s why he prayed for our enlightenment (v. 18).

Such enlightenment is crucial because how you perceive your spiritual resources dictates how you live. If, for example, you realize you have every resource for godly living (Eph. 1:3), you are less likely to succumb to temptation. Knowing God has given you His very best in Christ (Rom. 8:31) assures you that He won’t withhold lesser things, so you’ll not tend to worry about earthly needs. Understanding that you have already received “grace upon grace” (John 1:16), abundant life (John 10:10), and “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3) gives you confidence that God’s future grace and resources will be more than sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

Let that motivate you to praise your rich and glorious God for His rich and glorious inheritance!

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the privilege of being His child.
  • Memorize Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Peter 1:3 and recite them often as anthems of praise for the Lord’s abundant grace.

For Further Study

  • Read 2 Corinthians 11-12.
  • What kinds of trials did Paul face?
  • How did God respond to Paul’s prayer to remove his “thorn in the flesh”?
  • How might Paul’s response influence you when you face difficulties?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Embracing The Truth

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed” (Eph. 1:13).

The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him.

After stating salvation from God’s perspective in verse 12, Paul here states it from man’s perspective. Faith in Christ is your response to God’s elective purpose in your life. Those two truths—God’s initiative and man’s response—co-exist throughout Scripture.

Paul rightly called the gospel “the message of truth” because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5); purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6); and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), who worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and who obey the Word of truth (John 17:17).

Yet as profound and powerful as God’s truth is, people have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed it for centuries. Some, like Pilate, cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “Jesus may be true for you but that doesn’t mean He has to be true for me.” That view assumes that belief somehow determines truth. But just the opposite is the case. Truth determines the validity of one’s belief. Believing a lie doesn’t make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn’t make it a lie.

The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:3).

You enter this day armed with the message of truth and empowered by the Spirit of truth. Truth is your protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Lost souls desperately need to hear that truth. Represent it well and proclaim it with boldness.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank the Lord that by His Spirit He has enabled you to understand His truth (1 Cor. 2:14-16).
  • Ask for wisdom and boldness to speak His truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

For Further Study

  • Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and Acts 17:30-31.
  • What key elements of the gospel does Paul list?
  • What is the relationship between Christ’s resurrection and God’s judgment on sinners?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Matching Your Practice To Your Position

God chose us “that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4).

The challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match your practice to your position.

God chose you in Christ to make you holy and blameless in His sight. To be “holy” is to be separated from sin and devoted to righteousness. To be “blameless” is to be pure without spot or blemish—like Jesus, the Lamb of God (1 Pet. 1:19).

Ephesians 1:4 is a positional statement. That is, Paul describes how God views us “in Christ.” He sees us as holy and blameless because Christ our Savior is holy and blameless. His purity is credited to our spiritual bank account. That’s because God made Christ “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Despite our exalted position in God’s sight, our practice often falls far short of His holy standard. Therefore the challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match our practice to our position, realizing that sinless perfection won’t come until we are in heaven fully glorified (Rom. 8:23).

How do you meet that challenge? By prayer, Bible study, and yielding your life to the Spirit’s control. Commit yourself to those priorities today as you seek to fulfill the great purpose to which you’ve been called: “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that He does not expect you to earn your own righteousness but has provided it in His Son.
  • Ask His Spirit to search your heart and reveal any sin that might hinder your growth in holiness. Confess that sin and take any steps necessary to eliminate it from your life.

For Further Study

  • Read Philippians 1:9-11.
  • What ingredients must be added to Christian love to produce sincerity and blamelessness?
  • What is the primary source of those ingredients (see Ps. 119:97-105)?
  • What specific steps are you going to take to add or increase those ingredients in your life?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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